Diaoyu Islands

China and Japan get ready for talks over Diaoyus dispute

Two sides prepare for vice-ministers to meet with a view to lowering tensions over disputed islands in the East China Sea

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 October, 2012, 12:18pm

Japan and China have started preparing for diplomatic talks at vice-ministerial level aimed at easing tensions over their territorial dispute in the East China Sea.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said yesterday that Beijing and Tokyo would hold bilateral talks soon in a bid to resolve the row over the Diaoyu Islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan.

Hong confirmed that Luo Zhaohui, the ministry's director general for Asian affairs, had visited Tokyo on Thursday to meet his Japanese counterpart Shinsuke Sugiyama and pave the way for future negotiations. It was the second time that Luo and Sugiyama had met in a month, after talks in Beijing on September 12 on the same issue.

"We hope Japan will make efforts to achieve some positive progress for the forthcoming negotiation by showing its sincerity and taking action to correct its mistakes," Hong told a regular briefing in Beijing, while reiterating China's stance on the Diaoyus dispute.

The Japanese government bought three of the islands from their private Japanese owner last month.

Japanese prime minister Yoshihiko Noda warned in an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday that cooling economic ties between Japan and China because of the dispute could hurt both countries, Kyodo News reported.

As Luo headed to Tokyo on Thursday, foreign minister Yang Jiechi said Beijing's decision not to send health minister Chen Zhu and other top officials to attend events in Tokyo at the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank was "completely appropriate", reflecting a tougher tone in response to the Japanese government's purchase of the islands. The governor of the People's Bank of China, Zhou Xiaochuan , and the finance mnister, Xie Xuren , also decided not to attend the meetings.

Chinese experts on Sino-Japanese relations said Luo's trip indicated that Beijing was trying to calm the Diaoyus dispute by all means available.

Gao Haikuan , vice-chairman of the Sino-Japanese Historical Society, said: "Beijing should react to Tokyo's invitation for talks on the Diaoyus dispute because, diplomatically, it's impolite for us to turn down such goodwill. "If Beijing gave up such an invitation, we would lose an opportunity to let the Japanese public, or even the outside world, be aware of our voice and the reasons why China claims sovereignty over the Diaoyus."

Professor Peng Xi , deputy director of Nanjing University's Institute of Japanese Studies, said the negative impacts of the Diaoyus dispute on the mainland was also forcing the two countries to work together.

"In our country, many university graduates from Japanese departments have failed to find jobs because many mainland-based Japanese enterprises have abandoned recruitment plans after their factories were attacked by angry Chinese," Peng said. He said that more economic damage would be caused if tensions rose.

Meanwhile, three Japanese members of Taiwan's National Symphony Orchestra have been denied visas for a mainland tour.

A staff member of the orchestra said: "The Japanese musicians didn't get the visas probably because of the timing around the Diaoyu island controversy." The orchestra is scheduled to perform in Beijing, Shanghai and the east city of Wuxi as part of an East Asia tour.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse in Taipei